Imperative One Nation One Election idea is abandoned, High Power Committee dissolved: Congress

Kohima: Simultaneous elections against guarantees of federalism contained in Constitution, Congress argues

BY | Friday, 19 January, 2024
Every vote counts - Being the responsible citizen that I am, on my short trip to India, I got a chance to vote for BMC Election. Yay !!!

The Indian National Congress has on Friday said that the whole idea of One Nation One Election must be abandoned and the “highly biased” High Power Committee, led by former President of India Ram Nath Kovind, dissolved. Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge asserted this in his response to a letter from the committee inviting suggestions.

To the point made by the committee that frequent elections impede development process, the Congress argued that “development process and governance is being brought to a standstill frequently because the Prime Minister is actively involved in electioneering rather than governance.”

The Congress also said that claiming that One Nation One Election will result in financial savings was baseless considering elections are held once in 5 years, the expenses make up less than 0.02 per cent of the total Union budget for the preceding 5 years. “When elections are held separately to the state assemblies, the cost of the election is fully borne by the respective states,” it added. The Congress also alleged that a substantial part of the increase in election expenses is due to the use of VVPAT machines.

Further, it slammed the point made by the High Level Committee that the imposition of Model Code of Conduct hurts welfare schemes or development works because pre-existing schemes and projects continue during elections and in any case, the Election Commission can always approve any disbursements of pre-existing schemes.

The Congress also criticised the committee for referring to the report of Niti Aayog which it said is neither a constitutional nor a statutory body. The committee should have applied its own mind and made its own recommendations, it stated, adding that this only reinforces the concern that the High Level Committee has made up its mind and seeking a consultation seems to be an eye wash.

Moreover, in the response, the Congress highlights that the Niti Aayog suggests that tenure of a state assembly need not be 5 years and can be substantially lesser. “The Constitution nowhere authorises the Union Government to dissolve the state assemblies or to suspend the state Governments, except under the emergency clauses”, the party stated. Dissolution of several legislative assemblies halfway (or less) through their terms to hold simultaneous elections would be a betrayal of the electorate in those states, Congress argued.

Additionally, the Congress said that the Niti Aayog report suggests that if a Chief Minister loses the confidence of the house and no other party is able to form the government, the state should be put under President’s Rule until the fresh elections can be synchronized. This would be a travesty of democracy, Congress stated.

“Suppose simultaneous elections are held in 2024 and suppose, the central government is defeated in February 2025 and the PM calls for fresh elections. Or, suppose, on a major policy issue, the PM decides to seek a fresh mandate. Will ALL the state Assemblies be also dissolved and “simultaneous’ elections held throughout the country? A state legislature is elected for 5 years. Should fresh elections be held in all states merely because the central government has been defeated or has resigned?” the Congress questioned.

The Congress stressed that there is no place for the concept of simultaneous elections or One Nation One Election in India and that it is against the guarantees of federalism contained in the Constitution.

“The government, parliament and ECI should work together to ensure people’s mandate is respected rather than divert people’s attention by talking about undemocratic ideas like simultaneous elections,” it said.

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